Phosphorus flows and use efficiencies in production and consumption of wheat, rice, and maize in China

Chemosphere. 2011 Aug;84(6):814-21. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.04.055. Epub 2011 May 12.


Increasing fertilizer phosphorus (P) application in agriculture has greatly contributed to the increase of crop yields during the last decades in China but it has also increased P flows in food production and consumption. The relationship between P use efficiency and P flow is not well quantified at national level. In present paper we report on P flows and P use efficiencies in rice, wheat, and maize production in China using the NUFER model. Conservation strategies for P utilization and the impact of these strategies on P use efficiency have been evaluated. Total amounts of P input to wheat, rice, and maize fields were 1095, 1240, and 1128 Gg, respectively, in China, approximately 80% of which was in chemical fertilizers. The accumulation of P annually in the fields of wheat, rice, and maize was 29.4, 13.6, and 21.3 kg ha(-1), respectively. Phosphorus recovered in the food products of wheat, rice, and maize accounted for only 12.5%, 13.5%, and 3.8% of the total P input, or 3.2%, 2.6%, and 0.9% of the applied fertilizer P, respectively. The present study shows that optimizing phosphorus flows and decreasing phosphorus losses in crop production and utilization through improved nutrient management must be considered as an important issue in the development of agriculture in China.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Fertilizers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oryza / chemistry
  • Oryza / economics
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Triticum / chemistry
  • Triticum / economics
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / economics


  • Fertilizers
  • Phosphorus